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Friday, January 27, 2006

Freed from the Bondage of Truth

While Jerry Stahl's new LA Weekly piece is ostensibly about James Frey's recent escapades into fiction-land (originally brought to public light by The Smoking Gun), to me the best zingers are reserved for the Imperial Prez & company:
No. 1 seller Frey has transcended literature. He's embraced the "non-reality based media" concept with as much vigor as the president's own reality managers. Like the commander in chief, he has freed himself from the bondage of fact. Indeed, the parallels with George W. Bush are somehow heartening. Because no other author seems willing to step up and sign on with the truth that hunkers like the proverbial elephant in America?s living room: The truth that there is no truth.

[certainly not on TV broadcast news and much (most?) of so-called main-stream media]
....The president, after all, has long had a wavering relationship with the truth. .... It's not about honesty, anyway. It's about maintaining one's own mythology.

Stephen Beachy of New York Magazine recently produced an exposé "Who is the Real JT LeRoy: A search for the true identity of a great literary hustler" which seemed to get this cycle of the balls rolling. In the same LA Weekly issue, there's a story entitled "NavaHoax" written by Matthew Fleisher about another apparent fiction+plagiarism-infused 'ain't-at-all-who-he-claims-to-be' writer and career about which Stahl could have also easily penned this little gem (but it's actually in Stahl's piece "Free James Frey!" subtitled "In defense of the post-truth memoir"):
It's no picnic working a white [male] privileged existence into a world of pain. On some level all writers want to control what their readers think of them. Self-invention is part of the gig. ...the whole endeavor can morph into something closer to strategy than story. A kind of literature as self-promotion that's pervaded the American pantheon as far back as Whitman -- and to the Father of Our Country before that.


"Working a white privileged existence into a world of pain" connects rather seamlessly with the right-wing/conservative myths of 'reverse racism', 'our big tent welcomes everyone', 'ownership society', 'you can be anything you want to be', 'meritocracy', 'free press', 'colorblindness', 'we're all equal' ad nauseum and among other aspects of the American mythology.

Howie Kurtz at WaPo gives his take on it here evoking Stephen (Comedy Central) Colbert's recently created term "truthiness." The entirety of Stahl's composition here. Fleischer's here. Beachy's NYMag piece here.


 



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